Skip to main content

NAACP Supports the Severance of the United States' Government Relations with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma Until Such Time as the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma Restores Full Tribal Citizenship to the Cherokee Freedmen

WHEREAS, on March 3, 2007, operating under an unapproved Constitution, the Cherokee Nation held an election to remove the Cherokee Freedmen from the Cherokee Nation. In a vote of less than 4 percent of the total Cherokee Nation population, the voters elected to remove Cherokee Freedmen not of particular blood rolls from the Nation; and

WHEREAS, in the 1830s, members of the Cherokee Nation were removed from their lands in the southeastern United States and forced to migrate to Oklahoma along a route known as the Trail of Tears. Among those persons forced to migrate were the Black slaves of Cherokees, free Blacks married to Cherokees, and the children of mixed-race families, known now as the 'Black Cherokees'; and

WHEREAS, in 1861, the Cherokee Nation executed a treaty with the Confederate States of America, thereby severing its relations with the United States Government. Members of the Cherokee Nation held positions in the Congress and military of the Confederate States of America and waged war against the United States during the Civil War; and

WHEREAS, following the Civil War, the United States re-established relations with the Cherokee Nation through the Treaty of 1866, The Treaty of 1866 declared that the Black Cherokees, also known as 'Cherokee Freedmen', were to be made citizens of the Cherokee Nation and to have all the rights of Cherokees; and

WHEREAS, the manner in which the Cherokee Nation is conducting the relationship between the United States and the tribal entity is not in the best interest of the United States Government or citizens of the Cherokee Nation, and it violates existing treaties and laws governing the relationship between the United States Government and the Cherokee Nation; and

WHEREAS, current efforts of the Cherokee Nation to expel members of the Cherokee Freedmen from the tribal rolls and abolish Department of the Interior oversight, are being pursued in violation of the treaty rights extended to the Cherokee Freedmen in a treaty agreement between the United States and Cherokee Nation in the 1866 Treaty, as well as, in violation of Freedmen citizenship under the federally-approved Cherokee Nation constitution of 1975; and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP offers to facilitate a fair resolution to the claims of disenfranchised Cherokee Freedmen by means of education and fact-finding to address the history and current impact of Cherokee Nation membership/citizenship and promote understanding of tribal sovereignty and the "trust responsibility" of the United States to Native Americans, strongly supports H.R 2824, legislation introduced by Congresswoman Dianne Watson (CA) and 11 of her Congressional colleagues requiring that the United States government sever all ties and financial support with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma until the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma reverses its decision and once again recognizes the full rights of the Cherokee Freedmen, or Black Cherokees, and gives them full rights as members of the tribe.